Internationally renowned Collingwood-based artist Rone, who is best known for his large-scale portraits of beautiful women, has been working on a secret project in the ruins of the old Alphington Paper Mills in Melbourne.
Words: Erin Stobie
Photography: Tintin Hedberg
Hidden out of sight in the crumbling remains of the iconic brutalist brick buildings on Heidelberg Road, the covert art installation is an extension of Rone’s ‘Empty’ series, which debuted last year. An examination of the themes of beauty and decay, the murals making up ‘Empty’ were installed in various abandoned buildings and houses in and around Melbourne. The beauty—or the tragedy, depending on your outlook—of the series, is that it only exists to viewers in photographs.
And therein lies a hint as to the fate of Rone’s Alphington Paper Mills murals. On the morning of March 7, the levelling of the mills began. And with it came down the latest works in Rone’s series.
The weekend before the razing, a small audience were allowed in to view the portraits before they were painted over in preparation for the demolition. But the works won’t only live on in the memories of those lucky few. They, like other works, were photographed for posterity, with pieces from Rone’s ‘Empty’ series due to be placed into the NGV’s permanent collection.
The bringing of art to the old mills was far from happenstance. Art collector, Glenville CEO, and owner of an exciting new urban renewal development, Len Warson, was instrumental in engaging Rone at the site now known as YarraBend.
YarraBend is one of Melbourne’s biggest and most significant residential urban renewal developments—second only in size to Fisherman’s Bend. Designed to stand alongside groundbreaking developments like those in New York’s Meat Packing District and London’s Canary Wharf, the project intends to become one of the world’s most liveable suburbs.
Built on a beautiful slice of riverfront that since 1919 has been largely inaccessible to the public, YarraBend is an entire suburb waiting to be built from the ground up. A rare opportunity for developers and designers to re-think their approach to the environment, the project is looking to set new benchmarks in both design and urban liveability by bringing together the latest and most advanced ideas in the arts, gastronomy, health and wellness, sustainability, and knowledge.